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What Happened? The end of modernisation

In the last few days, I’ve been reading Hilary Clinton’s What Happened and reflecting on it as an expression of a political centrism which I suspect is coming to an end. These self-defined ‘modernisers’ sought to adapt their respective political parties to what they saw as a new reality, necessitating […]

The Technology of Intellectual Work

In 1988 Pierre Bourdieu chaired a commission reviewing the curriculum at the behest of the minister of national education. The scope of the review was broad, encompassing a revision of subjects taught in order to strengthen the coherence and unity of the curriculum as a whole. In order to inform […]

Technology, regulation and disruption

One recurring theme in Brad Stone’s excellent The Upstarts is how technological assumptions encoded into legislation become focal points for conflicts with ‘disruptive’ companies. For instance, as loc 2348 illustrates, the novel dispatch system used by Uber complicated the distinction between taxis and livery cars: Stressing that Uber cars were not […]

the sociology of executive coaching

As you may know, executive coaching is an increasingly common phenomenon, particularly in some sectors like tech. This is how Eric Schmidt and his co-author describe the necessity of it in How Google Works loc 2440: Whenever you watch a world-class athlete perform, you can be sure that there is a […]

the politics of denying causal power to objects 

From Addiction By Design, by Natasha Dow Schüll, pg 19: In a strategic response to growing suggestions that gambling machines are to some extent implicated in gambling addiction, the American Gaming Association released a 2010 white paper called “Demystifying Slot Machines.” Echoing the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) famous slogan— “Guns Don’t […]

the rituals of tech bros 

From The Boy Kings, by Katherine Losse, pg 134: That Sunday, after I’d slept off our long night, I logged in to Facebook to see an endless stream of videos that the boys had filmed at the club. In them, the boys were not chatting up or kissing girls they […]

innovation through appropriation

From Gates, by Stephen Manes and Paul Andrews, loc 9378: Developers trying to cut deals with Microsoft often divulged their technology and/or their business plans. According to the complainants, Microsoft then used the knowledge for its own gain. The case of Go was the most widely publicized. The Silicon Valley […]

the origins of digital capitalism 

From The New Prophets of Capital by Nicole Aschoff, loc 730-744: At the same time, society’s greatest inventions and innovations of the past two hundred years— rockets to the moon, penicillin, computers, the internet— were not bestowed upon us by lone entrepreneurs and firms operating in free markets under conditions […]